As it is nearing my first year anniversary blogging for Travel By The Glass, I feel a desire for change coming on.
A year ago, my intention was to post National Hot Toddy Day as my First Ever Post. I didn’t have it ready in time so Irish Coffee won that title. It will always be my favorite post for that reason and for the fact it was a very interesting story.
But that’s the next post.
Today is Hot Toddy Day…….
In the 17th Century, when Britain controlled India, the ‘toddy’ began. Taddy / Taadi is a Hindi word meaning “beverage made from fermented palm sap”. The sap is collected by tapping the palm trees.
The meaning morphed, by 1786, into an alcoholic beverage with hot water, sugar and spices added to it.
Interesting Facts About Palm Trees
They don’t form annual ‘rings’ the way other trees do.
There are 2600 different species known, many in tropical climates.
2/3 are growing in rain forests.
They all grow a type of fruit.
The British claimed the toddy as their own but the rightful place perhaps should be India since the original form comes from the palm trees of India.
Word spread of this hot beverage and many more claims to fame arose.
Spicing It Up
The basic recipe contains your choice of liquor, hot water, lemon, honey and tea. Brandy, any form of whisky (bourbon and scotch) and rum are popular liquors to use. But don’t stop there! Anything goes…tequila, fruit flavoured brandies, whatever you have on hand.
Got a sore throat? Use gin!
So what spices can you put in your hot toddy?
Whether you’re going for a traditional hot toddy or a non-alcoholic one, add some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Most households have honey hiding in their cupboard but if you keep unusual items, maybe you have agave nectar (the last place I saw this was in a Home Sense store) or simple syrup. These can be used instead of honey. Also, if you can find it, cinnamon syrup or a cranberry spice syrup. See sidebar for the recipes.
On your vacation to India, there are plenty of wonderful places to see and experience. If you’re there right now, visit a Toddy Shop for National Hot Toddy Day!
Published by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on January 11, 2018.
This is one liquor that I will not find locally grown. Sugarcane just doesn’t grow around here. Here, being Canada. Maybe where you are, it grows.
Distillers of rum are generally in the Caribbean or Latin America. Any other distillery selling it, is importing it.
It can certainly be bottled anywhere but the cane will come from the south.
Rum, itself, is made from molasses which comes from sugarcane. The quality and variety of the cane, the soil and the climate are all factors in the final outcome of rum.
The word Rum is thought to have come from either the words rumbullion or rumbustion/rumbastion which are slang for uproar or tumult. These words came about around the same time as the invention of rum. One theory.
Saccharum is Latin for sugar so it’s possible this is why it is called Rum.
In the 17th Century, the Caribbean saw the first distillation of the juice from sugarcane.
Even prior to this, there are recordings of the production of rum all over the world.
In Brazil in 1620.
In the 14th-century, Marco Polo claimed, and recorded, that a “very good wine of sugar” was offered to him in the region that is now Iran.
Yet, long before this, it is believed that fermented drinks from sugarcane were consumed in ancient India or China. From there, it spread so that it seemed other parts of the world were the first to distill it.
Today, India is the world’s largest market for rum. Contessa, Old Monk, Amrut and Old Port are just a few of the rums produced in India.
When the Royal Navy introduced rum rations, it was meant to ward off scurvy. They kept water on board to prevent dehydration. The water would always spoil. Then they introduced beer, as mentioned in a previous blog, which led to rum. They still kept a water supply for the use of mixing it with the beer and the rum before it spoiled.
The lime that was added to the rum probably kept the scurvy away, not the alcohol.
Even Newfoundland got in on the frenzy. Fishermen exchanged their salt fish for rum when they traveled to the West Indies. As a result, fish became the main dish in Jamaica and rum became the drink of choice in Newfoundland.
Back then, Screech was a Demerara Rum, originally produced in Guyana. Today, it is a Jamaican Rum.
As the story goes, during WWII, American soldiers downed this very strong rum like it was water. It affected one soldier in particular rather intensely.
“What the cripes was that ungodly screech?” The taciturn Newf simply replied, “The screech?” ‘Tis the rum, me son.” -Screech Rum
Visit The Screech Room to find out what all the fuss is about and get yer Screech on.
Established in Barbados in 1705, Mount Gay Rum, the oldest distillery, is still in operation 300 years later. Enjoy one of many tours. The Bottomless Rum Punch Station sounds awfully interesting.
Sir John Gay helped manage a distillery with John Sober (ahem, hilarious coincidence!) who had acquired it in 1703. Together they developed a unique tasting rum that spread the world.
The island of Barbados was originally discovered by the Portegese. The name means bearded ones and is said to describe the vegetation, like the bearded trees.
Bacardi & The Bat
Bacardi, founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, is the largest rum producer and is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It’s humble beginnings, in Santiago de Cuba in 1830, saw Massó deal in the import of wine then branched out to spirits.
Facundo tried to tame the strong liquor, experimenting with various methods until he found the best one. He strained the fermented liquid through charcoal which removed impurities. A process they still incorporate today. He, then, aged it in white oak barrels. The result, a smooth, mellow rum.
After a fire in 1880, a new plant officially opened in 1936 in San Juan. This is now referred to as The Cathedral of Rum.
The Bat is a symbol of good fortune. Facundo’s wife, Amalia, noticed the fruit bats living in the rafters of the distillery in Santiago de Cuba and suggested associating them with their company.
Today, they offer 3 different tours of the distillery: Historical, Rum Tasting and the Mixology Tour which sounds like tons of fun! I’m checking flights right now!
The 7-generation family-owned company sells more than 200 million bottles per year. This empire business deals in more than just rum. They produce everything: vodka, bourbon, whisky, gin, vermouth, and tequila.
Friendly tastings and distillery tours are available at the very homey Kinsip House of Fine Spirits, and boy are they fine, especially the Gin but we’re on Rum today.
“It arrives as molasses which is Barbados style. It isn’t the origin of product but represents a style. It is the first boiling of the sugar cane which makes a much lighter syrup vs black strap which is the final boiling.” -Jeremiah Soucie, President at Kinsip House.
According to thethrillist.com, these are the best rum regions of the world.
Popular rum cocktails
Mai Tai – white and dark rum, lime juice, syrup, orange curacao.
Egg nog – just add rum and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
What Can You Do With Rum?
Aside from the obvious….
Pour it over ice cream
Put it in a rum punch
Make a rum cake
Soak some gummy bears in it…ahem, you know who you are!
Among the recipes on the side bar, I have included some different sugars to experiment with when making Simple Syrup.
Demerara, not only a sugar, is a region in Guyana where this light brown sugar originates. Due to its growing popularity, it is now grown in Mexico, Hawaii and India to name a few.
Compared to regular brown sugar which is really only white sugar dyed with molasses. Demerara’s large grain sugar would be a healthier choice and a tastier choice with it’s caramel flavour. White sugar is refined to remove all of the minerals, such as chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese and zinc. These all help the body digest sugar.
Demerara, and turbinado sugar, still contain these minerals. Try it in your coffee (aka caramel flavoured coffee), cookies and muffins.
Nicknames for Rum
Nelson’s Blood – Admiral Nelson died in the Battle of Trafalgar, had his body preserved in a rum cask and transported to his final resting place. For a time after this, some referred to rum as Nelson’s Blood.
Splice The Main Brace – when you received your second rum ration of the day.
Wherever you are in the world, find yourself some rum, or whatever you’d like to call it, and salute your ancestors who developed this spirit.